Digging In

Mesko joins SHP as Development Director

Mesko joins SHP as Development Director

By SHP Staff on Tuesday, 18 June, 2019

The Soil Health Partnership is pleased to announce that John Mesko has joined as the Development Director, bringing vision and a breadth of experience to the SHP team.

John grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm in Minnesota, gaining a passion for farming and tremendous respect for farmers.  After graduating from Purdue University with a Bachelor's degree in agronomy and a Masters degree in agricultural economics, John’s diverse career in agriculture has centered around helping farmers become more financially and environmentally sustainable.  He served as a sales agronomist and technical information manager for Mycogen Seeds. As a County Extension Director for Purdue University, his work centered on farm management and developing new markets for farmers. In addition to raising and selling grass-fed beef and lamb for a dozen years, John has led two sustainability-minded nonprofits: the Sustainable Farming Association and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service. John now resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“Globally, agriculture has the single greatest impact on the environment.  By focusing on soil health, we have the opportunity to be a force for good.  Our efforts can not only lead to an abundance of food for a growing population, but we can improve the capacity of our environment to mitigate climate change, improve water quality and sustain these and other positive outcomes.” shared John. “Farmers are the original caretakers of the environment.  SHP’s work to learn about and promote soil health building practices in real-world, on-farm contexts puts farmers at the center of the discussion of these important global environmental issues.”

In this role, John will build and maintain SHP’s broad spectrum of partnerships, expanding the resource base for the important work of building soil health and creating a sustainable future for farming and food. He joins a strong national team that is focused on identifying and sharing the economic and environmental benefits of varied soil management strategies and provide a set of regionally specific, data‑driven recommendations that farmers can use to improve the productivity and sustainability of their farms.

“Sustainability, in part, means practices which are profitable for farmers,” John said. “With our focus on on-farm testing, we are looking for partners who want to play a lead role supporting farmers in the development and promotion of solutions which work for farmers.”

"Partnerships are core to our work at SHP. Thus, ensuring we continue to work closely with our existing and new partners is critical,” said Executive Director Shefali Mehta. “I'm pleased that John is joining SHP and bringing his passion and experience to our young and growing organization."